Bread ovens
The baking industry has bridged a technological tower of Babel over the past decade.

Not long ago, baking equipment from around the world spoke dozens of different languages and rarely relayed relevant information. Communication among a German-manufactured oven with a U.S.-made divider, a French-designed mixer and a Japanese-built packaging system often got lost in translation as equipment manufacturers in each country relied on regional electronic controls and customized data management systems.

For veteran bakery engineers such as Jim Kline, founder and president of The EnSol Group, it’s amazing how the industry has bridged a technological tower of Babel over the past decade. With the help of worldwide advances and standardization of software platforms, most equipment today speaks a common language that all systems understand.

“Before, if you bought a proofer and integrated it with the oven, you were almost reinventing the wheel a little bit,” noted Mr. Kline, a contributing editor for Baking & Snack magazine. “Today, that integration is so commonplace that it’s almost built in. The integration of equipment is certainly easier than it has been in the past. You’re finding the control integration is less costly than it was five years ago. It’s a no-brainer for integrators to connect with one another.”

In addition to the universal adaptation of information technology, international expansion of multinational baking and snack companies — and their vendors — has played a role. To serve global producers such as Mondelez International, Grupo Bimbo of Mexico City or Yamazaki Baking, suppliers are expanding their presence beyond their borders.

That’s why Mr. Kline and so many others will be exhibiting at iba, this year’s largest bakery trade show that runs Sept. 15-20 in Munich, Germany.